An estimated 20 million people in the United States, struggle with a substance abuse disorder, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Unfortunately, only about 10% of these people receive appropriate treatment. Whether you’re struggling to regain your life or well on the road to recovery, you’re probably focused on attaining or maintaining your sobriety. This is a noble goal, but there is more than one kind of sobriety. While your physical abstinence from substances is a vast and important piece of the puzzle, so is your emotional sobriety, which enables you to live a productive and fulfilled life.
Do You Know What Emotional Sobriety Is?
We use the term “emotional sobriety” to describe a state of mind that goes beyond physical recovery. While giving up drugs and alcohol is an important first step, emotional sobriety is essential in maintaining your positive lifestyle change. Emotional sobriety involves honing the ability to cope with your emotions, especially those associated with drug and alcohol use. Our brain defends us from painful realities by creating defense mechanisms. Unfortunately, addicts usually protect themselves from these feelings with drugs or alcohol. Achieving emotional sobriety is essential for maintaining your physical sobriety, as you will be better equipped to handle the negative feelings and events that are an inevitable part of life.
Addicts often feel that detox is the hardest part of getting clean, and this is partially true. Detox is often the most physically rigorous aspect of sobriety. Learning to cope with your feelings along with addressing and resisting temptation is a lifelong battle. Emotional sobriety is the most important part of finding peace with your past actions and finding confidence in your healthy future. An emotionally sober addict will be able to handle their feelings in all of life’s moments and also acknowledge when they need help.
How Can I Achieve Emotional Sobriety?
There’s no magic class or patented method for achieving emotional sobriety, like physical sobriety, it is a constant effort. Your rehabilitation program, however, will likely address emotional sobriety. Group therapy, family therapy, and individual sessions all help you uncover the factors that have been driving your addiction. This allows you to address them without the help of alcohol or drugs. For example, if your addiction arose in the aftermath of a traumatic event, you’ll have to address the negative feelings associated with that event that you’ve been masking with substance abuse.
Emotional treatment plans are focused on helping you be comfortable in your reality, no matter what it may be. The aim is to help you find your authentic self, both in good moments and in bad. This is a vital part of living a fulfilling life in sobriety.
Each person’s journey to emotional sobriety is a little different. Since no one shares the same struggle, your treatment will also be tailored to your unique needs. Treatment will involve helping you find and maintain your healthy emotional balance. You will have to accept reality as it is, stop dwelling on past mistakes, and look forward to all aspects of the future.
Why Emotional Sobriety Is Important
Some addicts take charge of their physical sobriety but never learn how to address and process their emotions properly. These people are more prone to relapse. The most successful addicts are the ones who realize their journey to recovery will never end. Recovery is a lifelong fight to resist temptation and address the negative and positive feelings in their life in equal measure. Life is full of challenges, and recovery is focused on being able to cope with them. Emotionally sober people can resist the urge to turn to substances, not matter what they’re feeling. When you’re comfortable in your own skin, you’re more likely to confront your emotions than avoid them with substance abuse.
Think of emotional sobriety as a healthy mindset. It will take work, but this healthy emotional mindset will put you on the road to a healthy life.
Achieving a Healthy Emotional Balance
Addicts struggle to achieve emotional balance more than most. Since intoxicants dull feelings (often purposefully so), addicts experience emotions in hyper drive after finding physical sobriety. Addressing these feelings as they come is an important part of attaining emotional balance. Learning to cope with life’s highs and lows and become present in each moment is difficult. Your sensations may hit you with more ferocity than before, which can throw you back into temptation. You must live consciously and deal with your life, no matter what its terms. This is the emotional balance.
Finding a balanced state of mind is easier said than done. It’s not so much a process as it is a commitment. To start, commit to having a positive outlook on life, no matter what the circumstances. This could include starting a gratitude journal or taking a few moments to think of what you’re thankful for before you go to bed each night. Meditate. Talk to friends. These little things add up over time to create a well-adjusted, positive sense of self.
At the same time, be careful not to create a veneer of happiness that hides sadness underneath. It’s just as important to address painful experiences, as it is to acknowledge positive ones. When you’re feeling low, talk to a friend or your sponsor. Discuss temptation and your continued road to recovery. By putting these feelings out in the open, you’re allowing yourself the opportunity to process and put them into perspective.
Emotional sobriety is not an easy task, but its well worth the effort. Make your commitment to recovery a holistic one, healing your mind, body, and spirit. This enhances your ability to live a long and fulfilling life.